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I had a black sharpie. What could go wrong?

When I bought my BMX last year (or was it two years ago now?), I knew I wanted to get another lid. After all, my trail lid is supposed to protect my brain on the trails. If I crashed at the skatepark, and I was sure I would, I didn’t want to be without a helmet for the mountain bike. I had a bit of a look around online and landed on a really cheap 7 Protection, white helmet for dirt cheap.

When it arrived, it made me look exactly like I didn’t know what I was doing – and I don’t. I’m no BMXer. Don’t get me wrong, I used to have one as a kid, but so did everyone. We dropped off the school wall on it and built jumps. I towed my mates down the road on their skateboards over the speed bumps and rode it like it was a bike suitable for long distances. But I’m no good on a BMX. I don’t know any tricks. I  learnt to 360 into a foam pit in a day but I’ve never transferred that into actual riding. So having a basic lid matched my basic talents. And I’m ok with that.

Inspiration struck when I saw Martyn Ashton’s custom Animal helmet. The one which has been sketched all over. I’ll leave you to google it if you haven’t seen it yet. The work gone into that helmet and how it all flowed together really got me thinking. My new helmet was white. I had a black sharpie. What could go wrong?

That’s when I set to it. I storied the process on my Instagram account (it’s still there in a highlight somewhere) but I never really talked about it anywhere else. Since March 2018 until now, it’s more or less just sat in my garage. It’s been out a few times when I’ve had chance to ride BMX but otherwise it just looks pretty in the garage. I think it looks pretty at any rate.

Initially, I sketched everything in pencil. I knew that once I put sharpie to it, then it’d be hard to remove. I didn’t have any alcohol wipes to get it off so it was a careful pencil job. When I did want to change the lines, I just rubbed the gentle pencilling off and changed it up. Once I was happy, the sharpie went over the top. Once that had dried, the rubber came back out and got rid of any remaining pencil lines. Simple really.

I’d read online that sharpie shouldn’t have a negative impact on the protection of modern helmets but that clear lacquer could damage the EPS inside. So, when I’d finished sketching the full helmet, I taped up all the vents and the bottom and sprayed it to put a protective finish on and stop the pen from smudging. Ironically, this meant the pen smudged. I’d got a little close to some of the ink with the can and that meant that it ran. It’s not ruined but it’s definitely a lesson learnt for the next one.

Overall, I’m really happy with the final thing. There’s enough in there that some things go missing in the first look. It takes a while to find all the hidden drawings. I’ve got a few ideas ready for the next one I do but, in the meantime, I better find some time to ride with this one.

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